Jan. 14—Candidates for Anchorage mayor can now officially file to run for office. The city’s period for filing began Friday morning and will end on Jan. 26.
Eight candidates have already filed paperwork with the state’s election agency to run for Anchorage mayor, including two new additions this month.
For several months, incumbent Mayor Dave Bronson and three top challengers have already been amassing support behind their campaigns, gathering money, volunteers, and endorsements from big organizations and political figures.
Bronson, a conservative elected to the mayoral seat in 2021, has been campaigning against Suzanne LaFrance, former chair of the Anchorage Assembly; Chris Tuck, a longtime former Democratic state lawmaker; and Bill Popp, a longtime Anchorage economic development official.
Ballot packages are set to be mailed to Anchorage voters on March 12, and the final day to submit those ballots is April 2.
With so many candidates already in the field, many believe likely result of the April 2 election will be the top two vote-getters heading into a runoff race in May. In Anchorage, a candidate for mayor must cross a 45% threshold of support to win the race outright.
The last day for Anchorage residents to register to vote or to update their voter registration is March 3. Filing for candidacy will close on Jan. 26.
Here’s who has thrown their hat in the ring so far:
—Mayor Dave Bronson is seeking a second term. He was formerly a commercial pilot, an Air Force pilot and an Alaska Air National Guard pilot and officer.
In 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bronson’s campaign won a narrow victory over then-Assembly member Forrest Dunbar, who is now a Democratic state senator. Bronson’s campaign capitalized on local backlash against pandemic measures, homelessness policy, and criticisms of elected leaders.
His reelection campaign kickoff event listed support of several powerful conservative political figures, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, and three current Assembly members.
Since he took office, Bronson and a moderate-to-progressive Assembly majority have clashed repeatedly over homelessness and fiscal policies. His administration has seen high turnover and has been at the center of numerous controversies.
But in an interview and recent statement, Bronson conveyed confidence in his reelection. He said he is focused on serving as mayor and that his campaign team will “run a positive campaign focused on the issues.”
—Suzanne LaFrance was the Assembly’s chair during the first year and a half of Bronson’s term. She grew up in Palmer and was elected to represent South Anchorage on the Assembly in 2017, becoming chair in June 2021. She left the Assembly last year after she opted against running for a third term. LaFrance also ran a nonpartisan campaign for a House seat in the state Legislature in 2020 and lost.
Since announcing her run for mayor, LaFrance has garnered the support of several organized labor groups. The Central Labor Council, a coalition of local union groups representing some 15,000 members, announced its endorsement of LaFrance unusually early. Most current Assembly members have also shown support for LaFrance.
—Former Democratic state Rep. Chris Tuck was first elected to the Legislature in 2008 and twice served as leader of the House majority. He’s worked as union organizer and owns an electrical contracting business in Anchorage.
Many expected him to win much of the support from labor groups that LaFrance has instead secured. He has endorsements and the support of several sitting state lawmakers.
—Bill Popp for 16 years led the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., a prominent nonprofit that advocates for business and industry-friendly policies in the city and Southcentral Alaska.
Along with LaFrance, Popp won the endorsement of the Anchorage Police Department union’s political action committee.
—Breck Craig last week filed with the state his candidacy to run for mayor. Craig has twice filed to run for office before. In 2016, he lost the U.S. Senate seat to Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski with 2,609 votes. He also made a bid for the late U.S. Rep Don Young’s seat in the 2022 special primary.
Craig, a project manager with a local consulting firm, describes himself as a moderate independent. Craig so far is not running an organized campaign and hasn’t solicited donations, he said.
—Jenny Di Grappa is the chief of philanthropy and community relations at the Food Bank of Alaska. Di Grappa grew up in Fairbanks and has worked in the nonprofit sector for about 10 years.
Di Grappa filed with the state on Tuesday her intent to run for Anchorage mayor. Last year, Di Grappa announced a run for a Midtown Assembly seat, challenging then-incumbent Felix Rivera. However, Di Grappa later withdrew from the race. Rivera kept his Assembly seat, beating out another challenger.
While other candidates have a few months head start, Di Grappa said she is an experienced organizer and fundraiser. In an interview Friday, she said she sees herself as a serious candidate offering voters a more middle alternative to the incumbent Bronson on the right and candidates on the left.
—Darin Colbry has frequently been a candidate on local ballots in recent years but hasn’t run organized or well-supported campaigns. Colbry ran for mayor in 2021, losing with 31 votes. In 2018, he also ran for governor of Alaska and lost in the Republican primary with 416 votes.
—Dustin Darden has run for office more than 10 times in local and statewide elections, including running for Assembly last year. He is a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, according to state voter information.
In the recent past, Darden has been a frequent attendee of Assembly meetings, and has been removed by security and/or arrested for disruptions.